Amazon announced a Kindle app for the iPhone a while ago; I’ve just got round to downloading it.
Now I’m a fan of ebooks. It’s a great concept, and therein lies the future — but I still have reservations. I don’t think there will be a tipping point from print to ebooks any time soon.
It won’t happen as quickly as many gurus hope it will, because
1. New ebook readers are announced daily. One format must achieve dominance, by which I mean 80%+ of the market.
2. That format has to do everything: colour, sound, movies, the lot
3. They are furiously expensive
4. We’re not there yet
Amazon famously announced that on Christmas Day more ebooks were downloaded than than they sold printed books. The future had arrived.
Well, durrr. Who is going to be on line buying books on Christmas Day? And who is more likely to be sitting in their solitary flat with the turkey pizza shoved under the door, endlessly scanning the internet for stuff to download?
Weren’t 8 out of 10 of their top selling ebooks all giveaways? How many of the print titles were free? I think we’ve been handed some spurious statistics here, and it’s been repeated all over the place.
The chatterati WANT ebooks to succeed. And of course they will. But a lot of people have got to get their acts together pretty damn quickly if it’s going to happen any time soon.
What prompted this? Well, I downloaded the Kindle app, and then I downloaded an ebook from Amazon.
And this is what I saw:
Well, I’m sorry — I gave up right away. There are graphic standards to keep to in this world, and I refuse to dumb down to
THE INFORMAL EXE-
CUTION OF SOUPBO-
which is beyond pathetic as any sort of commercial offering.
Keep trying, chaps. I’m sure you’ll make it eventually.
The ebooks that Neil Smith and I have produced for Aaron’s Apps are attractive, readable, innovative, colourful, non-linear, a new way of presenting a guide book, a new way of presenting history, and (though of course I’m saying all this myself) a genuinely new way of reading a book. These are guide books that follow YOU about, not the other way around. One huge illustration, eight feet by six feet, 160 pages which you can read in any order, and a nifty way to locate yourself in a city 200 years ago, as easily as today. Impossible to replicate in a printed book.
Now THAT’s what I call an ebook. The world should be beating a path to our door.